The American Heart Association released a Scientific Statement on November 21, 2016 that may impact how health risks are viewed. Mortality risk factors include smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. Studies have established that cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) may play an even more important role than the traditional risk factors.
We've always been told that CRF is important for health, but this Scientific Statement confirms its importance. In fact, don't be surprised when you go to the doctor for your annual checkup if you're tested to determine your cardiovascular fitness level.
The American Heart Association has issued these General Recommendations for Measurement of CRF During Routine Clinical Visits:
1. At a minimum, all adults should have CRF estimated each year using a nonexercise algorithm during their annual healthcare examination. Clinicians may consider the use of submaximal exercise tests or field tests as alternatives, because these involve individual-specific exercise responses.
2. Ideally, all adults should have CRF estimated using a maximal test.
If you are generally healthy, the following recommendations apply:
Option 1: Nonexercise estimate of CRF – This is a test that doesn't involve exercise. One example is the University of Houston Non-Exercise Test which was developed at NASA or this easier to use online assessment based on the extensive research of The K. G. Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Option 2: Submaximal exercise test or field/clinical test. There are several options for this one and include the one-mile walk and the 6-min walk.
Option 3: Maximal exercise test without cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPX)
Option 4: Maximal exercise test with CPX
Assess your Cardiorespiratory Fitness
If you'd like to assess your CRF in an easy to administer way, you could do the 1 mile walk test. It's easiest to do on a treadmill. Walk one mile at a rapid pace. At the end of the mile record your heart rate in beats per minute and how long it took to complete the mile. Enter your results into an online calculator such as this one: http://www.exrx.net/Calculators/Rockport.html.
The value from that test will tell you your VO2 Max which is a measurement of how much oxygen your body can utilize. The more oxygen, the higher the number and the better your cardiorespiratory fitness level.
The American Heart Association gives recommended values in METs. To convert your VO2 Max number to METs, divide by 3.5.
For example, you do the one mile walk, enter your results in the calculator and determine that your VO2 Max is 35 ml/kg/min. So, 35/3.5 = 10 METs.
According to the research published by the American Heart Association, the following MET levels are used to determine increased risk of death:
A CRF level of less than 5 METs in adults is associated with a higher risk of mortality.
A CRF level 8 to 10 METs are associated with increased survival.
Cardiorespiratory Fitness is a potentially stronger predictor of mortality than established risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes mellitus - American Heart Association
If you're not doing a cardio workout at least 3-5 days per week, now's the time to start. It's extremely important as this new Scientific Statement released by the American Heart Association confirms. If you have any questions about what you should be doing for your workouts or how to administer one of the tests to determine your MET level, please post your question on The Edge Personal Training Facebook page or contact me directly at http://edge-trainer.com/contact-us.php.